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Jan Dismas Zelenka was born on October 16, 1679 in Bohemia (Louňovice) and died in Dresden on December 22, 1745. He came from a musical family and studied at the Jesuit Clementinum College in Prague. He moved to Dresden in 1720 to be Kappelmeister until 1736 when J. S. Bach was appointed to this post. In 1723, he moved to Prague, for a short time, for the coronation of Charles VI where he wrote his festival opera, Saint Wenceslaus. This was the pinnacle of his career.
 
His musical works from 1712, illustrate his technical mastery. His colleagues, J. S. Bach and Georg Telemann, particularly admired two characteristics of his music—its contrapuntal ingenuity and harmonic inventiveness.
 
Zelenka is one of the Baroque composers who could produce original tonal imagery. This is apparent in his liking for chromaticism, the surprising use of accidentals, and for agglomerations of suspensions and chords of the 9th. His themes are sometimes unfashionably long, up to 32 ms. in his Oboe Sonatas, and he used an irregular structure, often mixing Slavonic rhythm with it. His feel for Czech folk music elements is evident in his choice of themes, rhythm, and rustic gaiety.
 
“Ceremonial Horns” is an adaptation from a series of “Reiterfanfaren.” Obviously this music was written as ceremonial music for the coronation of Charles VI in Prague. Typically, the musicians rode on horseback (what a test for focusing the embouchure!) with small tympani draped over the back of the horse. Enjoy the wonderfully simple elegance of this musical gem! May it serve to lead you to discover other Zelenka masterpieces which are mostly sacred choral music, much of which is augmented by oboes, strings and trumpets.

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